Gordon and I just finished listening to the Viability of Enterprise 2.0 webinar, sponsored by the FASTForward blog. Andrew McAfee, the originator of the term, squared off against Tom Davenport, an Enterprise 2.0 skeptic and deflater of marketing hype. Key themes of the debate included:
Much of the discussion concerned the “2.0” suffix. Tom worries that 2.0 implies a whole new way of doing business and believes that advocates who take a “messianic” approach to promoting Enterprise 2.0 are doing more harm than good. Andy stood by his original definition: Enterprise 2.0 means companies using Web 2.0 technologies inside the firewall. It’s a concatenation of “Enterprise” and “Web 2.0”, not “Enterprise, Version 2.0”. This difference in emphasis framed the the conversation about the other two points.
The jury is still out on the second point, but there’s some good evidence that these technologies are helping the cause of knowledge management and information sharing. It’s difficult for businesses to quantify the benefits of better internal communications, but you can read about several examples on Andy’s blog. On the other hand, Tom pointed out that we haven’t seen any companies dismantle their corporate hierarchy as a result of using these tools. After all, judging by C-level salaries, the corporate pyramids stand taller than ever before.
Tom seems to feel that there’s not much new to Enterprise 2.0. The technology to enable better information sharing was available with mailing lists, bulletin boards, groupware, and other tools long before wikis, blogs, and tagging made their appearance. Andy maintains that Enterprise 2.0 tools are qualitatively different in their ease of use and in their leveraging of collective intelligence. Because many of these tools lack predefined rules or a governing structure, it’s easier to adapt them to the particular culture of an organization. The rules emerge as a function of employee interactions with each other, much as in the real world.
Naturally, infovark leans toward Andy’s point of view. We feel these tools are different than the ones we had a few years ago and that they allow new strategies for dealing with the age-old problems of business. But we admit that the “killer app” — the thing it would have been nearly impossible to do in the Web 1.0 world — hasn’t arrived yet.
But we’re working on it.